Popular Internet companies such as Google, Yahoo! and Facebook should start sharing revenues with telecom companies, according to Bharti Airtel.

The company said that the telecom regulator should impose interconnection charges for data services just like it is applied for voice calls.

“Today, Google, Yahoo! and others are enjoying at the cost of network operator. We are the ones investing in setting up data pipes and they make the money. There is interconnection for voice then why not for data,” Mr Jagbir Singh, Director, Network Services Group, Bharti Airtel, told Business Line .

Falling voice revenue

“Network is capital intensive, we have to pay for spectrum and voice revenue is coming down. At the same time, companies like Google, which have not invested more than a few billion dollars, are enjoying valuations that are ten times that of a traditional telecom player. It’s an unfair game,” he said.

Globally, telecom companies have been putting pressure on regulators to find a resolution to this issue.

While content providers such as Google have been endorsing network neutrality on grounds that the Internet is free, hence should not be controlled by regulation, telecom companies are finding it difficult to keep investing on network upgradation to meet rising data demands. Operators, including BT in the UK and Verizon in the US, have been very vocal against network neutrality rules.

Verizon believes that it’s entitled to the same kind of control over the content that flows through its network as newspaper editors exercise over what appears in their papers.

For Airtel, traffic from Web sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google account for nearly 40 per cent of its overall data traffic and, therefore, wants to get some part of the revenue.

Multi-pronged strategy

“They are completely bypassing the telecom operator. There should be a fair revenue share,” Mr Singh said.

Meanwhile, to cope up with rising use of data services, Airtel is deploying a multi-pronged strategy. This includes setting up a network comprising of wi-fi hot spots to offload traffic indoors and an Internet Protocol-based backhaul.

The company is also cacheing these popular Web sites that enables users to access it without latency.

Rising 3G data traffic

Data traffic on Airtel’s 3G network is increasing by 200 per cent and by 100 per cent on 2G.

“Without having multiple networks, I don’t think you can give cope up with data growth,” Mr Singh said.

Airtel has launched fourth generation based (4G) mobile data services in Kolkata and Bangalore and is set to launch in Pune and Chandigarh.

> tkt@thehindu.co.in